Archive | November 2014

soundCHECK 277 – November 27th 2014

“Shall I get another round in?”

“How about some nuts or crisps or something?”

“Oh and what about having some ethnic flutes in our new band?”

A snapshot, dear reader, of how the conversational flow no doubt went down when the four people who became folked-up London band Ranagri met and formed in an unspecified pub in Richmond – amid the ruddy, rufescent-cheeked lone-drinkers; betwixt the susurrous thrum of ruffled crisp packets and insouciant background chatter. Yep, ever the seedbed of new ideas – Ranagri were born down the boozer.

The four musicians have names that go like this: Donal Rogers, Eliza Marshall, Jean Kelly and Tad Sargent. Between them they have recorded and performed with big-hitters like Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Peter Gabriel and Paloma Faith. Bottom line? This lot can play. But it was the rapacious desire to build a musical project that was uniquely theirs that inspired the formation of Ranagri. A musical project that preferably plumbed into a shared love of world music and folk.

But hold the hummus. Put down the mung beans. This isn’t quite the hippy free-for-all I’ve made it sound like. Ranagri are engaging enough, using flutes, harps, bodhrans and bouzoukis to create wholesome melodies that wrap around the warm, weathered voice and bluesy acoustic guitar of frontman Donal Rogers.

Should the two boys and two girls that form Ranagri have despatched a few extra vodkas on that fateful night in Richmond – to the point of amnesia, to the point where the band never surfaced? It’s up to you to decide. The four-piece play at St Anne’s Arts & Community Centre in Barnstaple on Tuesday 9th December. It’s one of Ranagri’s last gigs in the UK before they head out to the US next year to support six-time Grammy winners The Chieftains. (Nope, me neither.)

“This is our first joint promotion with a band directly. Tickets are selling well so it’s looking to be a success.” That’s Dion Sears, doing those words. He’s the manager of St Anne’s Arts & Community Centre. “Until now I have been joint promoting music events with The Plough Arts Centre.” You can listen to Ranagri at Tickets and gig information are available from

Oh and the aforementioned manager of St Anne’s is super-keen to talk with local bands and artists about putting on shows together next year, suggesting it would be “an affordable and profitable way for local musicians to gain a new audience”. So if you fancy seeing how your riffs bounce around in a fourteenth-century Gothic chantry chapel, do the emails to

CONTACT: I want your music news. Don’t disappoint me: jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 276 – November 20th 2014

Brace yourself. Barnstaple’s about to go technicolour.

Pretty soon you’ll be sashaying along High Street amid intoxicating luminescence, thousands of lights beaming down on you with a celestial brilliance as you scurry from the Pannier Market to your clothing retailer of choice – mind feverishly searching for excuses as you try to reconcile your pre-Christmas diet with the unshakeable desire to throw a plump, piping hot pasty into your gaping maw.

Yep, Barnstaple’s Christmas lights are switched on this Sunday (23rd November). Make the most of autumn’s monochrome greyness while you can.

To mark the event The Overtones will be performing on the Square, shortly before inciting a dramatic countdown among the assembled revellers and pressing the button that throws the town centre into illumination-based ecstasy. The official line is that this squeaky-clean five-piece male harmony were discovered by a Warner Brothers scout when they were singing together during their tea break while working as decorators in a shop near Oxford Street – a story that seems so implausible and fictitious that it’s probably true. Either way, given the ease with which they press my buttons, The Overtones are sure to do a stellar job of turning the lights on.

Once you’ve scraped your jaw off the floor following The Overtones’ performance, don’t be disheartened if you find yourself at something of a loose end. Instead hop across the Square (or just walk) to Lilico’s, where Bromsgrove-based acoustic singer-songwriter Dan Greenaway ( is likely to be jollying it up with recitals of pop classics, given the repertoire he has massed while bit-on-the-siding as a wedding performer. It’s Greenaway’s self-penned material that you should listen out for though. Plaintive, melodic and perfect for a chilly November evening while sipping a glass of mulled wine.

Elsewhere this week The Fallen State leather-jacket themselves toward the stage at The Palladium in Bideford (Friday November 21st). Expect thick, raucous riffs hewn from a hard rock aesthetic that displays deferential devil horns to grandfathers of the genre like AC/DC, Black Sabbath and, slightly later, Audioslave. You get the idea. Big guitars. Tight rhythms. Soaring vocals. But there’s enough originality and imagination (not to mention supreme musicianship) here to make The Fallen State well worth the sometimes-too-overt posturing and £3 door charge. Not to be missed if you like it live, loud and lacking in Christmas-based festivity.

CONTACT: I am a man of constant sorrow. Fix it by sending me your local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse